The Covid 19 pandemic has left us all cooped inside our homes; and those who are venturing out are always in shadow of fear of contracting the virus. As the pandemic wears on, it is taking a toll on the mental health of people due to reasons like disruption in the routine, financial instability, the inability to meet family and friends and above all the fear of getting infected.
These testing times are especially difficult for old people who are understandably more fearful and distressed during this time.
Recently both my parents in India and my brother and sister in law in US got Covid 19. The latter pair is young, so they got recovered soon. Moreover, their office work, which they resumed after 3 days, kept them busy throughout the day.
But my parents stay alone and don’t have a hectic work schedule. It was my mother who contracted the infection first and a week after my father. Since none of their children could visit and help them, it only exacerbated the situation. With no help at hand, they managed house, kitchen and themselves with much difficulty. Thankfully they are recovered now, but that one month was stressful for the entire family.
Now the problem with older adults is they don’t have the required measures to deal with the stress of Covid 19; my parents for example, don’t engage actively with people on social media (one of the many solutions suggested for time-pass); and live in an independent house (so felt all the more lonely and helpless).
To mitigate my parents feeling of anxiety and for their positive mental health, we did the following as a family:
- Due to the nature of this disease since the kids could not visit them , we made sure that we remain connected to our parents through smartphones. Every day without fail kids, grandkids would video call the parents to inquire about their health, talk to them, show our activities via video call…all which would amuse them and hence proved a great panacea for their boredom .
- We have a counsellor in the family, who made sure she had video conferences with my parents to mitigate their symptoms of anxiety. My mom, who was unable to carry out her daily chores, was helped a lot through these sessions; it greatly reduced her uneasiness of not taking care of the house and kitchen. Similarly for my father who could not carry on with his active lifestyle, the one to one talk with the counsellor proved helpful.
- My father is a doctor and knew how to deal with physical symptoms of Covid , which was a big relief. But when my mother contracted the virus first, it left him also anxious. Again it was the telephonic talks with his kids which gave him solace in the difficult situation.
- Since Covid 19 is a novel disease which affects people differently with no proven treatment, I made it a point to download all information regarding it from the official WHO website and forwarded the same to my father on WhatsApp. I concur that fake news or any kind of false alarm worsen the apprehensions and dint want my parents to be the victims of misinformation. My parents too kept themselves informed through the trusted news channels only.
- My parents consciously tried to maintain a healthy and happy routine. They had their meals regular on time (courtesy my aunt), exercise a bit by walking on the terrace of the house (when they regained the strength) and did activities like gardening and playing Ludo and cards (these indoor games proved as saviour)
- I encouraged my mother to take up her hobby of knitting again; an activity which proved calming and therapeutic for her. Plus, the end result was pretty beautiful, as she made a nice sweater for my father!
These are difficult times for everyone, particularly the vulnerable ones. But with little empathy and support we can help older adults look after their mental health.
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter